IKEA has teamed up with British designer Tom Dixon to launch an urban farming project. This calls on city dwellers to grow food locally. Dixon and the Homeware brand are also developing a line of gardening products and tools that urban individuals can use to grow their own medicinal edible plants at home. The products should be available in IKEA stores worldwide from 2021.
Urban agriculture with growing food
The aim of the collaboration is to promote the cultivation of food in one’s own home. The project aims to enable people in cities to lead healthier and more sustainable lifestyles. In doing so, “houses can become the new farmland”. The other goal is also to create awareness of where food comes from and how growing products can be brought into the home. “Food is an essential part of everyday life, and IKEA wants to promote healthier and more sustainable lives,” claims the group.
Designers believe that if we had to grow more greenery in our homes, it would have a positive impact on the planet. This would mean less transport, less water consumption and correspondingly less waste of food. An experimental plant growing and urban farming model will be unveiled at the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London in May 2019. It has a garden that is divided into two levels. The base garden will include a “garden laboratory” where city dwellers can use hydroponic plants based on such technology to grow “hyper-natural” crops.
The elevated level, which the designer calls the “botanical oasis”, has an ecosystem with treetops and trees that can be selected based on its medicinal, health and ecological properties. The installation aims to examine the difference between natural and technology-driven approaches to urban agriculture. Dixon says gardening is unique in its universal appeal and transformative power.
Innovative urban agriculture and garden design
The developers explain that while the people of the city are not traditional gardeners, they believe they can show them ways in that direction. So everyone can make a little difference and bring out both the beauty and the functional importance of horticulture. Thanks to traditional knowledge and the latest innovations, we can therefore expect great results very soon.
In this case, IKEA is primarily building on previous products for urban agriculture. It’s not the first time the furniture business has turned to agricultural products and urban farming. In 2016, the Swedish brand launched an indoor garden product designed to bring hydroponics into the home. For IKEA, this collaboration is about challenging and addressing the way society is growing in general. “So it’s both possible and rewarding to have your own location for your own plants in town,” said James Futcher, director of creative at IKEA Range and Supply.
The sustainable food is the key to human progress and design can support the new innovations with better solutions. Because at the end of the day we need people to grow our own food in the homes and communities. The first joint project by IKEA and Tom Dixon was a bed, which was introduced at the beginning of the year with a distinctive cover made of fur and modular elements. This also enables customers to adapt the product to their own needs.
The IKEA grow room – a laboratory of innovations
In October 2016, SPACE10, the external location for innovations from IKEA, started the grow room. This is a spherical structure that allows people to grow their own food locally and sustainably. Soon after, people from all over the world contacted the company with a request to buy or exhibit the program. However, the team felt that shipping long distances was not what the organization wanted. Local food production could therefore not be promoted.
For this reason, SPACE10 has now published the grow room as an open source design. You can build this with a rubber mallet, 17 sheets of plywood and a CNC milling machine. Made from just one material and conceived as a serious alternative to the global food model, the design focuses on making assembly as simple and intuitive as possible. Built as a sphere, the overlapping panes of the free-standing pavilion ensure that water and light can reach the vegetation on every level.